It was not possible for Tim to express the relief he had felt when Jason had cautiously agreed that it was in his best interest to relocate to Wayne Manor, all he while side-eyeing him, though he could not say for sure whether it was to confirm he was saying the right thing or he was just agitated with him and I made Tim jumpy.
In a way, the workers that had come to discuss things were relieved, but they too had seemed leery and had had their concerns about the proposal. Ultimately everything had fallen upon Bruce, who they had insisted upon speaking to alone out in the hall, and while he had been clueless about what exactly they had spoken about, Bruce had returned with a reassuring smile on his face- and that was all he needed really.
As it would turn out, things were not exactly final- legalities still needed addressing, but the outlook seemed positive, and Jason was still going to be released into their care once the doctors felt him fit enough to be transported though bed rest would still be highly stressed even at the manor.
In the meantime, Jason made it clear that he was still upset with him, that Dick best stay as far away from him as possible- or as the older teen had put it 'go jump off a cliff', and that he did not even for a second trust Bruce, but even still… Tim was content with the results.
Jason was free to be angry. He regretted hurting him, regretted leaving him to his own devices, but as much of a toll as it had taken on himself Jason had clearly had a far worse time of things. At least with their current arrangements he would be able to find a way to make it up to him somehow eventually and eventually with any luck there wouldn't have to be secrets between them- nor between he and Bruce.
As upset as he was, Jason was still good company during the hours he managed to spend in the hospital with him. He was tired, cranky, and seemed unsure of what he wanted to say much of the time resulting in a plethora of awkward silences, but the teen had craved the attention all the same, and Tim knew that despite the situation Jason was enjoying their time spent together unmasked for a change.
Even still, he was forced to patrol at night, which was awkward at best. While Bruce was not being nearly as hard on him as he had initially expected the man to be, it made for strained conversation, and his own guilt was punishment enough it seemed. He tailed along behind the Batman as they patrolled feeling just as anxious as he had when he first started out, the sense of shame in full force, and when they return to the cave for the night he wasn't quite sure what to say before he departed for home.
Dick was complicated, to put things lightly. On one hand he too was feeling guilty. Not for keeping secrets from Bruce of course, but for having told him to stay away from the older teen, for having partly had a hand in Jason getting sick as if he had still been meeting with him he surely would have noticed Jason being under the weather long before it had become life threatening. Dick was still human after all, even if he was a mask, and Tim knew that had their lives been normal the man would have been far friendlier and welcoming of Jason.
It was four long stressful days before the hospital felt comfortable with Jason leaving the premises. While it should have been a relief to finally put the facility behind them Tim found himself more nervous and stressed with the new development than anything.
Jason was in a particularly good mood however, despite his coughing and aches, and genuinely seemed happier to see him now that they were getting ready to discharge him than he had been over the past few days. He could only assume that there had been an air of disbelief over him actually being released into their care and now that it was actually happening Jason was feeling more relaxed than he had in ages.
Alfred came to retrieve them shortly after the evening shift change was wrapped up. Jason was far from steady on his feet at first, but managed to make it to the car just fine with help from the two, and Bruce finished off the necessary paperwork while Alfred got them settled.
The drive back to the manor was spent in an awkward silence. Tim could feeling the tension rolling off of Jason and he was thankful that Bruce had chosen to ride upfront with Alfred for the duration of the trip as he was sure the man would have made him particularly twitchy. Despite Jason having been distant since the DCFS had gotten involved his nerves had gotten to him, and he spent the entirety of the ride with his side pressed against Tim's in search of some air of comfort.
When they had finally arrived at the gates, and pulled through, Tim got the sense that if it hadn't been for the fact that both he and Alfred were assisting him that Jason never would have gotten out of the car. His eyes were wide and as he kept a tight hold on the older teen's arm as they walked towards the front door he could feel just how hard and fast Jason's pulse was running.
Despite the situation, he had to give Bruce credit for being all knowing and was genuinely surprised when the man made himself scarce and left things to him and Alfred.
In traditional Alfred fashion they broke things in gently, crashing in the sitting room while the man stepped out to get them a light meal, and what was sure to be a soothing pot of tea.
Jason was jumpy, already looking completely exhausted a he pressed his spine into the back cushions of the couch, seemingly fighting back the oncoming urge to cough. The fit never did come though, and whatever tickle had remained seemed to dissipate as Jason inhaled the seam and sipped at the cup presented to him.
"I have taken the liberty of labeling all of the washrooms and baths in the manor with signs… I learned a thing or two when Master Dick first joined us. He too was not used to such a lavish layout and became lost quite frequently in the first few months. Granted he was far younger, and rather small, so the halls must have seemed endless to him. Especially when I could not seem to keep him off the ceilings…" Alfred trailed off with a small chuckle. "Regardless, I thought it would make things a bit easier for you."
"Thanks…" Jason swallowed roughly, and cleared his throat thereafter.
"The kitchen is on the main floor. There is plenty of counter space and a few stools, but generally we eat in the dining room rather than within. You are free to visit the fridge as often as you might like so long as it is not overly close to dinner time as it will spoil your appetite. Be forewarned, as much as the others might protest the matter, the majority of the food in this house is fresh. You will not find a plethora of boxed snacks, frozen pizzas, nor microwave meals. You will most often have to prep your food if eating between meal times. I dislike the microwave and if I had my way there would not be one in this house- let alone two, but I find it difficult enough at times to get Master Bruce to remember to eat, and many times things end up needing to be reheated in a very short amount of time or he will lose interest yet again…" he muttered.
Jason snorted as he munched on a saltine and Tim gave a knowing chuckle as he inhaled half a scone in one bite.
"Upstairs is mostly bedrooms." Tim smiled turning to him. "But there's also the library, a music room, some offices, and a half dozen other miscellaneous rooms for various activities. We can go up in a moment and let you pick a room to set yourself up in."
"I get to pick?" he rose a brow, finishing off his drink. "Interesting. Where's yours?"
"I'll show you when we get there. I don't use it much though to be honest." He laughed, sliding off of the couch.
"Are you ready to head up, Master Jason?" Alfred inquired, retrieving their empty cups.
"Sure. Let's get this show on the road… find out where I'm camping." He rolled his eyes, taking their outstretched hands.
In the end they ended up having to stop at the top of the stairs, and Tim sat crouched next to Jason as the teen sat perched at the top having a coughing fit, one that left him beat for the next fifteen minutes.
But after, to no surprise of the other two, he chose the room left of Tim's.
To Tim's surprise Alfred left the two of them alone, with promise that he would be just down the hall if they needed him. Jason had slid onto the top of the covers of the bed and laid there merely resting for a bit while Tim sat at the foot of the bed.
Eventually he seemed to get a second wind and sat up slightly to give the room another look over.
"What do you do with so much space? This room alone is bigger than most apartments I've lived in. And there have been plenty so that's sayin' something." He sighed, draping an arm across his chest.
"You'll get used to it eventually. I mostly have shelves with things. But… well, I never had to get used to it myself. I've always been in a house like this- not as huge, but still pretty big with a ton of rooms that never end up used."
"Lucky you." He snorted, but not harshly. Tim could hear the hint of a laugh behind it.
Tim managed a small smile.
"It was…lonely. Overbearing at times because the house was always empty. Most of the time it was just me and the maid- Mrs. Mac, and even she left often. She didn't live with us. My parents were always traveling, for work mostly, but it was always hard to get time with them. I guess I've always been a bit bitter about it as I really did want my parents in my life more, but I had a good life all the same. And heck, if it weren't for them being gone so often all of this with Bruce and Dick never would have happened. It was the lack of supervision that made things possible so I should really be grateful. Bruce and Alfred have been great to me." He sighed.
"And your parents?" Jason tilted his head and frowned.
"One of their trips turned sour… they were held hostage. It-it didn't end well. They ended up poisoned. My mother ended up with a higher dose. He survived. She didn't. Had I not been involved with Bruce at the time neither of them would have made it as it was only thanks to him that my father didn't drink more of it. Otherwise they both would have been gone and who knows where I would have ended up. No close relatives. Bruce went searching for them the moment we knew something was wrong."
"Wow- shit… I'm sorry…" Jason muttered and ran a hand through his bangs. "And your old man? He's still around?"
"Yes, and no. He suffered plenty of negative side effects from the poison even though he survived. He was in the hospital a long time. Even after he started becoming mobile again he ended up having to do a lot of physical therapy- and then actually fell in love with his instructor." He laughed. "I'm happy for him, really. She's very nice. But they're out almost as often as he was while I was growing up. Old habits I suppose. Again, it's how I get away with this though, so I can't complain. I'll actually be heading out in a bit though. Poor timing, but he let me know he'd be home tonight a couple days ago so I'll have to be home. I'll be back in the morning to show you around more and help you get your room situated but you should get some sleep in the meantime…" Tim trailed off with a sigh.
And with that Jason froze.
Somehow, in all of the chaos that had been his life since he had woken up in the hospital, it had never crossed his mind- he had just assumed that Tim lived with Bruce Wayne on a permanent basis, given the nightshift job they held. Sure, he had heard of both Tim and the Waynes, from the occasional newspaper or business' television, who hadn't? But he hadn't exactly paid any attention to their lives, most of hat the news reported was clearly carp anyway, and he hadn't had a television that worked himself in years.
He snapped his head up to meet the teen's worried gaze, and he must have turned a pretty grim shade of white given the look on his face.
"You… you don't actually live here?"
"No, I… you didn't know?" he stood up and shifted awkwardly on his feet. "No, I'm here a lot of the time- and I have my own room, but I don't actually live here. Not anymore at least, since my father left the hospital. Bruce got his consent and arranged to be my guardian during that time but once he was out I had to go back home. As my Dad's out of town pretty often now that he's doing well, trying to get is life back together, I just stay here after patrol much of the time as it's easier unless here's a chance of him stopping home. When he's home I have to be careful because I can't exactly explain to him being Robin. I've gotten pretty adept at sneaking out and back in nightly over the years without him noticing. When he's gone… well, he knows I'm here most of the time, just not what I do. Just assumes I'm just hanging out with Dick or helping Bruce out with random things and that I like the company."
Jason visibly panicked, and Tim very quickly regretted having not talked about things more prior to bringing him to the manor.
"Wha-" and the teen wheezed, braking off into a choked cough that had him doubled over, and Tim kneeled back on the bed.
He reached forward to pat his back, only for Jason to flail and smack his hands away, backing away towards the opposite edge of the bed. When he stopped and a got a few good gasps of air in he shook his head.
"I-I can't do this. I can't." He rambled. "God, you don't live here. You're leaving me… I can't live here with people I don't even know- I can't handle being in this huge ass house where I don't know where anybody is including myself. I'm so stupid… so, so stupid!" He gasped, lurching to his feet, only to sway, and Tim pulled him back down.
"Jason, you need to calm down!" He pled, clinging to his arm. "No, I don't live here. But I'm here more often than I am there. And no, you don't really know them, but I do, very well. Alfred is the greatest and Bruce? He may seem stern in person, and demanding, but his heart is really in the right place- and besides… when he's even actually home he's down in the cave or asleep. In all honestly you'll probably see very little of him unless I'm there as well or you purposely seek him out for something. Things will be okay."
But Jason looked no more convinced and Tim was sure that if he could run without collapsing he'd have bolted already.
"I can't, I just… I had a good thing going, it worked-"
"No, no it really didn't." He insisted, shifting to press Jason back against the pillows. "It didn't, and you know that. Otherwise, we wouldn't be here right now, and… I'm glad really. Because you shouldn't have to live like that. You have no idea how hard it was for me to leave you each night, not knowing where you went, knowing what danger you put yourself in, and being completely unable to do more than I already was to help you all because of the double life I lead."
"You- you left." Jason muttered, running a shaking hand though his bangs.
"I did… and didn't." He murmured. "Dick told me to end it, completely. I didn't- couldn't. I still brought you things. I just couldn't let it alone. I kept my distance, sure… and I… I regretted it, even before you disappeared. I tried to let you keep your privacy. I had hoped you were just, I don't know, staying in until the weather let up? Or that maybe you just decided to ignore me? But then the girls hadn't seen you, and the food was repeatedly left untouched, and I just couldn't chance it. I thought the worst. I resorted to the com-link and I was so relieved to hear you breathing, even if not strongly, as it at least meant that you were alive. I didn't care that I was hurting myself by getting Dick's help and ultimately involving Bruce. If losing privileges and trust meant you would be alright I was more than willing to deal with it."
The older teen slumped and turned his gaze back towards him.
"You… you even bothered to check on me through the girls?" He sighed. "Were they… worried?"
Tim managed a smile.
"They seemed to be hoping like I was that you were toughing it out until the weather let up. Told me that you had been upset lately and that seeing me probably would have cheered you up."
"Might have. Not sure. Wasn't sure whether I wanted to be grateful or fuckin' pissed when you stepped through that door. Both I suppose." He rolled onto his side and pressed his cheek into the pillow with a small huff. "This is… too much. You realize this right? This shit doesn't happen to people like me and I don't think for a second that it's going to work out. The moment you leave they're going to realize what a mistake they've made, and they're not going to care that I'm in on this big secret, because no one would believe for a second that 'Brucie' Wayne is Batman in a million years anyway."
Ultimately it was time to make a judgment call. If Jason was going to over stress himself panic attacking all night it would hardly be health productive, and the last thing he wanted to come back to find in the morning would have been him bed ridden again, or missing- not that the two older men would allow it, but just the thought of Jason making an effort and having to be stopped made him shudder.
"What are you doing?" Jason stiffened, watching as Tim pulled an unfamiliar phone from his back pocket.
Tim only held a hand up and pressed buttons with the other before tucking the cell against his shoulder.
Jason could hear even feet away when the voice sounded on the other end of the line.
"Um… hi." Tim gave an awkward sort of laugh, "Yeah, fine, really." and then, "actually… Bruce's new ward got to come home today. I was wondering if I could maybe… stay behind tonight? Help things get settled?" and he winced.
"Yeah… I know, it's been a few weeks since you've been home during night hours- can we maybe go to dinner Monday?.. next weekend then? We'll have breakfast Monday instead then…"
The conversation became utterly random and domestic thereafter and Jason could only sit there floored until Tim managed to wrap things up.
Tim slid the phone back into his back pocket, sighed, and let a small smile onto his face.
"Problem solved. Feel better?"
"I…" He started, stumbling over his words, only for the younger teen to carry on without his response.
"I can't make a habit of it, seriously, I do have to go home for a few hours on a semi regular basis. But tonight? I think I can manage tonight. So can you please try and relax some?" He chuckled, shifting himself to sit cross-legged beside him. "I promise that no one here will try and hurt you, even when I do have to be gone, and Alfred will be great company whenever we're out on patrol and you feel like being up and out of bed."
He gaped but eventually found his voice.
"Yeah… I think I can manage. I can try."